Fighting Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is something that plagues everyone. I’ve had some pretty big failures in my life. I failed to get my robotics company off the ground in college. I failed to build my electric car to specification. I failed to keep my electric bicycle store in business. My latest failure is that I failed to find a way to live on Orcas; but my dream of living in the San Juan Islands is very much alive.
The First Weapon
Here is what I hope to do with my new lifestyle:
- blog excessively
- show small business owners how to promote their websites effectively
- write more field guides (and possibly a full book)
- Continue work on the Free Charge Controller
That’s an eclectic bag of dreams. I will probably fail at most of the things on that list, but I really only need to pull one off. This method of planning really takes the bite out of failure. To fail may not have lost its severity, but I am significantly reducing the risk by ‘diversifying my investments’. I am setting myself up to fail at several things, but I only need to succeed at one of them. That is my first weapon against fear.
Even though that plan lowers the risk, it does nothing to lessen the severity. What if I simply fail to make enough money to live? My wife and I are both giving up our jobs, health care, property and moving our entire lives onto floating slab of fiberglass. What could possibly go wrong?!
The Second Weapon
The first step that we decided to take was to save money. We’ve been working hard over the last four months to save as much money as possible. By cutting back on our expenses, and adding some income from my side businesses, we’ve managed to save almost 50% of our paychecks. We will continue our strict regimen of savings through May. The second step comes from the overall plan: by selling our house and living on the boat at the dock, we’ll be reducing our expenses by about $2000 per month, in addition to these other benefits:
- Significantly lowering our carbon footprint
- Giving me the time to develop my web businesses
- Allowing us to travel from Olympia to Alaska, and take our home with us
The point is that there is an element of financial offense and defense here. Because we are simultaneously lowering our expenses and saving money, what started as a goal of saving 6 months of living expenses is instead looking like 12 months of living expenses (or 8 months and an exotic vacation). This makes up the second weapon I use to fight fear.
The Third Weapon
The third and final weapon I use to fight fear is my professional background. I have an engineering degree and several years of experience in the automotive industry. Even at the peak of the 2008/2009 recession, unemployment among engineers was only about 5%. At summers end, we should have the savings to cover our expenses until I can find work. With the ability to easily move our home to any port in the Puget Sound, I’ve got access to the job markets in Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, and Bellingham – all major cities with jobs for engineers.
So What’s the Lesson?
Could everyone do what I’m doing? No. I have played to my individual strengths and planned hard to minimize my weaknesses. That’s the point, and that is exactly what I hope to inspire others to do: Craft a lifestyle that minimizes your weaknesses and plays to your strengths. I plan to write more about this in the months to come. I’m still thinking about it and discussing it with my wife, but I’m feeling a strong urge to share my plans (financial and otherwise) here on the blog.
I’d like to document my plans, share my successes and failures, solicit advice, and be able to look back at my goals. One big advantage of the lifestyle we are getting ready to adopt is that we will have a significantly reduced carbon footprint. I can safely say that if more people lived the way we plan to, it would make the planet better. For that reason alone, I think it would be a good idea to share my success and failure; for posterity (I love that word).
“If I can’t change my own life in response to the greatest challenge [Global Warming] now facing our human family, who can? And if I won’t make the effort to try, why should anyone else?”
–Kurt Hoelting, The Circumference of Home